Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Law?

Almost all New York workers are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Law. To be covered, you must be an employee, and not an independent contractor. Whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor depends on many things, but the basic question is whether the employer has the “right to control” the worker. In some cases a person might be an independent contractor for one purpose (such as taxes or unemployment), but an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation. This issue is decided by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, depending on the facts of your particular situation. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board is the state agency that handles workers’ compensation claims.

A few groups of employees are not covered by New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law. These groups include uniformed police, fire, and sanitation workers in New York City, New York City teachers, seamen, longshore workers, and employees of the federal government.

If you live in another state, your employer is located in another state, or your accident happens in another state, then you may be covered by either New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law or by the law of the other state.

Legal Editor: Robert Grey, December 2014 (updated June 2019)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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